Introducing the D-43 Field Jacket

Introducing the D-43 Field Jacket

Mansel Fletcher charts the noble field jacket's progress from the battlefields of WWII to our new incarnation: the D-43.

With Europe ablaze amidst the hell of World War II, and the liberation of Northern France still a year away, the designers of the US Army’s new 1943 uniform had bigger things on their minds than style. Yet the coat that they came up with, the M-43 field jacket, has become an iconic piece of menswear. A quick look reveals why. It’s an outdoor jacket boiled down to the essentials - a substantial collar for keeping the wind and rain out, four easily accessible patch pockets, button cuffs to keep the wrists snug and a length that keeps the wearer’s backside warm without restricting his movements. The fact that it comes in a sober shade of green further contributes to the sense that the M-43 is a paragon of the magic that can happen when form follows function.

However, the same can be said of many elements of military uniform and yet baggy cargo pants are little seen these days (would it muddy the waters if I admitted to having recently spotted an inspiring shot of a man wearing an olive-coloured pair with a blazer?). So what is it about the M-43 that remains so relevant? The roll-call of men who have worn one doesn’t hurt. From the unimpeachable heroism of the GIs in WWII, to Jack Nicholson, via Robert De Niro in the Martin Scorsese film Taxi Driver, the M-43 (and its descendant, the M-65) now pushes a wealth of appealing cultural buttons.

But in fact the M-43’s greatest assets are that it looks great, and is incredibly versatile. The Drake’s designed version, the D-43, adds to the coat’s utility through the use of a waxed-cotton fabric and the addition of a tweed lining made by renowned Yorkshire fabric mill Abraham Moon. You can tell that Michael Hill, Drake’s creative director, divides his time between London and Devon because the D-43 is equally well suited to town and country life. On a mild autumnal day it will sit comfortably over an oxford-cloth shirt, and on a cold day it will look just as good over a thick shetland sweater. The forest-green shade works particularly well with blue jeans, is dark enough to work with more formal grey or navy-coloured trousers, and also complements pale trousers in the form of white jeans, or classic sand-coloured chinos.

Over the last 73 years the M-43 has demonstrated incredible longevity. Expect the new D-43 to prove equally enduring.